I love my Apple iPad. I think it’s way better than the Kindle can ever be, and in addition to using it for games and Internet, I also want to be able to read books on the iPad, but I don’t want to pay for the books through iTunes, which is expensive. Instead, there are tons of free-to-download books on Google Books and similar. Can I get any of those and read them on my iPad?
I feel obligated to start out by observing that there’s a Google Books app for your iPad that does a very good job of letting you browse their library and download / read whatever strikes your fancy. Yes, another random business Google’s in. There’s also a very nice Kindle reader application from Amazon available for the iPad too, so if you like the Kindle library but prefer the Apple device, no worries, it’s already solved.
Then again, I find that the Apple app iBooks is the most stable of the bunch, and being able to take any “.epub” file and drop it onto your iPad so you can keep them all neatly organized on the iBooks bookshelf is a laudable goal. In fact, if you have a Sony eReader or Barnes & Noble Nook this applies equally well: they can read .epub files too.
So let’s figure it out!
First off, if you’ve never visited Google Books, click here and we’ll see you in a few hours: Google Books.
Back so soon? Um, okay.
There are a ton of great public domain books available for free download into iBooks on your iPad. I’m going to pick a classic — one that’s way better than you may think if you’ve only seen the cheesy Universal movie from the 1930′s — called Frankenstein: or the Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley. Here’s what I see when I get to that page in my Web browser:
You can click on the orange “GET IT NOW” but that just makes it available in the Google Reader app, which isn’t what we seek and certainly doesn’t help Nook or Sony Reader users. Instead, click on “Read on your device” then scroll down a bit…
Being able to download a PDF is pretty handy, but let’s stick with the EPUB format as we agreed in the beginning. Click on “Download EPUB” and we’ll need to prove we’re not a robot scraping all their content:
Got that annoying captcha entered correctly? Great. Click “Submit” and the book will download in just a few seconds:
The next step isn’t at all obvious but it works. Open up iTunes on your computer and simply drag the .epub file into the application:
Cool, but where does it actually go once you do that? Turns out it’s now correctly categorized in iTunes as a book, so it shows up in — surprise! — “Books”. Look:
Now it’s easy to get the book (or any other .epub format file) onto your iPad: just plug the iPad into the computer and when it shows up in iTunes click on the “Books” tab:
Yes, my iPad’s called “iPadewan”. Now you know.
Notice that I clicked on the “Books” tab along the top then had to enable “Sync Books” for it to work. Since they’re all tiny, I usually just keep all my books sync’d to my iPad but if you want to just select Frankenstein or similar, choose “Selected books” and select it.
Next time you sync your iPad with your computer, it’ll transfer the new book onto the device, though you won’t see it show up on the iPad home page. It’s hidden within iBooks. Launch that, however, and iBooks shows:
Tap on the book cover and you’re reading the book on the crystal clear screen of your Apple iPad:
Very nice. Now about that monster that Frankenstein creates…